Whitney Houston was at the pre-Grammy gala just 2 days before she was found dead in her hotel room.
Whitney Houston, the legendary singer, would have turned 59 on August 9, 2022. The last week of her life has been deemed devastating and tragic. Houston turned up to rehearsals for mentor Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy gala, a glittering night of music and mingling that she was scheduled to attend, two days before her death on February 11, 2012, per New York Post.
Houston's longtime musical director Rickey Minor was putting the band through its paces for the occasion when he noticed something odd about the woman he referred to as his "little sister." He said, "She pops into rehearsal, and we hadn’t even started, and it’s 10:30 in the morning. Like, she doesn’t get up till the crack of 3, you know? She’s not a morning person. She loves her sleep, and she’s a night owl, so I never get to see her at 10:30. And she was kind of wet, like dripping."
Happy Heavenly 59th Birthday to one of the greatest singers ever, the iconic Whitney Houston🙏🕊 pic.twitter.com/0hljEMrb5l— madlib fan acct (@TheRealAntonioA) August 9, 2022
He further added, "And I said, ‘Where are you coming from?’ She says, ‘I’ve been swimming. I’m getting my lungs back. I’m getting back in shape.’ "Houston said she was cleaning up her act after years of drug addiction and smoking had worn out her once-perfect pipes. But she was definitely deceiving Minor and maybe herself too.
Houston's anticipated comeback following the completion of her next film Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 musical drama, did not happen. She died at the age of 48 in the drug-filled bathroom of her hotel room, just hours before the Davis party was to begin. Accidental drowning in the bathtub was the cause of death, although long-term cocaine usage and heart problems were other factors.
Gerrick Kennedy, author of the new book Didn’t We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston, said, "Nothing would have made the circumstances less horrible. Nothing would have made the moment feel less awful."
Kennedy remembered visiting Houston two days before her death at the Beverly Hilton. The actress was in high spirits when she interrupted Brandy and Monica's E! News interview at the Davis party rehearsals. He said, "In the moment, it was just like, you know, she’s having a good time. She was there to see her little babies. But obviously, we now know that clearly she was not [sober]."
Later that night, Houston sang Jesus Loves Me in a spontaneous performance at Kelly Price's For the Love of R&B pre-Grammy celebration at Tru Hollywood nightclub. It would turn out to be her final public performance. Houston's photograph leaving Tru, where she appears unkempt, was circulated the next day.
Minor received a call from Houston that day, but she did not leave a message or return his call. He said, "I never talked to her again."
Minor learned of Houston's death via Beverly Hilton's chief of security. When word of Houston's death circulated across the Staples Center, longtime Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, though busy, was devastated by the news. However, the Grammy Awards celebrations went on as usual.
“Your almost natural instinct right at the beginning was to throw the [originally planned] show out and make the show a tribute to Whitney Houston,” Ehrlich said. “But that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. So it was trying to find the blend between honoring her memory and then doing a Grammy show right.”
Ehrlich and others at the Staples Center, on the other hand, found solace in LL Cool J, who was presenting the Grammys for the first time. He began the Grammys with a heartfelt prayer to commemorate Houston's memory.
The passing of Houston considered someone with the greatest voice of all rocked Grammy but the music world that had assembled to celebrate its biggest night of the year decided to turn it into collective mourning to honor and remember the legend, Whitney Houston.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Kevin Winter